four dollars and a half a hundred, and for prime leaf, I get
so mad I wonder we stood it as long as we did. That damned
buyer for the Aha Company, coming to my own barn door,
this one right here in this field"—and he pointed to the
barn, where strands of blue smoke stood out from the eaves
and thinned upward— " and saying to me, ' Mr. Munn, we
can give you four-seventy-five for your prime leaf and three
for seconds/ and then telling me when I said no: 'Mr.
Munn, your place falls in my territory for buying and you
won't get an offer from anybody else; for your own con-
venience I'm telling you this so you can take my price and
save yourself trouble, because when I come back again it's
likely the price won't be so good, the price is falling so sharp
the last few days/ I told him------"
May patted his arm and said: " I know, Perse. Don't get
wrought up about it, it was last year-----"
He gently disengaged his arm from hers, and approached
the door of the barn. " I just want to take a look," he said.
"Do you want to?"
"All right/' she replied.
Inside the barn it was almost dark except for the unwink-
ing redness of the logs that smouldered on the dirt floor.
He stared into the upper obscurity of the barn where the
tobacco plants hung in solid tier on tier. Scarcely visible in
the pall of smoke that sluggishly shifted in the upper reaches,
the inverted plants looked like great bats sleeping in their
" It's not cured enough to be very risky yet," he said.
He continued to stare upward at the suspended leaves.
May came to stand beside him, putting her hand on his arm.
"It's not just getting more for your tobacco," he said, "even
if we haven't had an honest price in five years. It's a little
more than that "—he hesitated a little—" at least, it might
A great flake of ash scaled off one of the logs, releasing a
new puff of smoke and revealing, beneath, the steady brilliant
redness of the heart of the burning wood.